Share this project


Share this project

Photo original
The greatest work IN English literature, now in the greatest format OF English literature: a chooseable-path adventure!
Created by

Ryan North

15,352 backers pledged $580,905 to help bring this project to life.

Achievement unlocked: THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING.

AHHHH WE REACHED OUR FUNDING GOAL IN JUST THREE AND A HALF HOURS.  Thank you SO MUCH - because of you, this book is going to happen!!  And it's just going to KEEP HAPPENING and KEEP GETTING MORE AMAZING because of how awesome all of you are being.

I just want to keep saying "thank you" - I'm humbled and thrilled and super excited all at once. I call this new emotion, "exrillbled"! I may be renaming it in the future. ANYWAY!  You guys are the best ever in time!!

As thanks, I've uploaded an illustration for the book by that came in too late for the video but JUST IN TIME for me to share it with you right now!  It's by Chris Hastings.


And hey, since this book is definitely going to be a thing (I said it before but I'm gonna say it again: thank you all SO MUCH), let's start reading it together! This is the pre-edited version of course, so things might change, but at least you'll be able to look back on this in a few months and say "Huh, he caught that misplaced comma after all. Sweeeet."



William Shakespeare (1564 AD - whenever he died) was well known for borrowing from existing literature when writing his plays. Romeo and Juliet is pretty much lifted entirely from Arthur Brooke's poem "The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet": dude didn't even change the names. And, as recent Shakespeare scholarship has recently established, the famed play "William Shakespeare Presents: Hamlet!" was lifted wholesale from the volume you are about to enjoy, "To Be Or Not To Be".

"To Be Or Not To Be" is both the earliest recorded example of the "books as game" genre, as well as the first instance ever in the then-newish English language that was kicking around of an adventure being chosen by YOU, the reader.

We've taken the liberty of marking with tiny Yorick skulls the choices Shakespeare himself made when he plagiarized this book back in olden times. They’re there in case you wish you put yourself in Shakespeare's shoes, reading this book as he did, stealing plot elements wholesale and classing up the language as he/you went/go. However, this is not the only way to read this book! Feel free to explore your other options, as each time you read this book you can go on a different adventure, assuming you don't read the book 53,000,000 times, at which point the adventures will start to repeat and they'll probably seem pretty familiar long before that anyway.

Now, take yourself back to History, when ghosts walked the Earth and nobody knew dinosaurs were ever even a thing. Steel yourself to experience the magic of Shakespeare as it was meant to be experienced: in a non-deterministic narrative structure where you end up thinking maybe you made a wrong decision so you mark the pages you were just on so you can go back and make a different choice if you die for some dumb reason.

To be, or not to be: that is the adventure.

Ryan North
Noted Shakespeare Scholar / Enthusiast
November 2012

CHOICE ONE: Choose your character!
CHOICE TWO: Man, what if I just read the acknowledgements instead


    1. Creator David on November 21, 2012

      Choice 1!
      Character choosing please.

    2. Creator Stephanie Bredbenner on November 21, 2012

      Choose your character, please! :)

    3. Creator Tine Nielsen on November 21, 2012

      Choice one for sure!

    4. Creator Emily Phillips on November 21, 2012

      Choice 2, definitely.

    5. Creator Matthew B. on November 21, 2012

      Choice Two

    6. Creator Elizabeth Battey on November 21, 2012


    7. Creator Richard Flyr on November 21, 2012

      choice two!

    8. Creator Alison Noble on November 21, 2012

      Choice One!

    9. Creator Ty Von Plinsky on November 21, 2012

      Choice one!

    10. Creator Maryam Siddiqi on November 21, 2012

      I always read the last page first, so acknowledgements svp!

    11. Creator Will Scotland on November 21, 2012

      Choice One!

    12. Creator Randal Cooper on November 21, 2012

      Choice One says it's designed to lead to more choices, which might be a trap, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me. But Choice Two could lead to an early and untimely demise, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you.

      Let's throw caution to the wind and go with Choice One.

    13. Creator Wendel Scardua on November 21, 2012

      Congratulations for making this "HAPEN" ! Also: Choice two

    14. Creator Jessica Tedder on November 21, 2012

      Choice two! Which I hope also includes the copyright page and the dedication. Front matter is fun!

    15. Creator Rose Goodison on November 21, 2012

      Choice two!

    16. Creator Alexandra Becker on November 21, 2012

      Choice one; Characters!! (also - yay!!)

    17. Creator Holly on November 21, 2012

      Choice One!

    18. Creator Matt Youngmark on November 21, 2012


    19. Creator Chris King on November 21, 2012

      Choice Two!

    20. Creator Jim Ottaviani on November 21, 2012

      Hey, speaking of misplaced commas, might as well crowd-source the copyediting too, right? (Did I spell copyediting right? Who cares!) Anyway, "They’re there in case you wish **to** put yourself in Shakespeare's shoes.

      And I pick Choice 2. For now...

    21. Creator Neville Fogarty on November 21, 2012

      I am ALL about the acknowledgements. Choice 2!

    22. Creator Sean Deitz on November 21, 2012

      Choice two. Definitely the way to start off a book.

    23. Creator Katie Harding (deleted) on November 21, 2012

      Man, I am already way too indecisive for this book.

    24. Creator Lia P Zwanziger on November 21, 2012

      One, lets get on with the magic!

    25. Creator Melanie Carson on November 21, 2012

      Choice two: skip to the acknowledgements and hope they tell us which is the best character to choose.

    26. Creator Alex Davies on November 21, 2012

      Speedy! I choose CHOICE ONE.

    27. Creator Lee Cherolis on November 21, 2012

      Choice 1. Huzzah!

    28. Creator Alex Mooney on November 21, 2012

      Choice 1!

    29. Creator Ilan Muskat on November 21, 2012

      I choose more choices, for a paradox!

    30. Creator TJ Warner on November 21, 2012

      Finally, a choice for discerning individuals. I'll go with two if you don't mind.

    31. Creator grapeson on November 21, 2012

      Choice two, if you would be so kind.

    32. Creator Z Rider on November 21, 2012

      Choice one!

    33. Creator David Benzino on November 21, 2012

      Numbah Two!

    34. Creator Sol_Racht on November 21, 2012

      I dare you.

    35. Creator Margolotte on November 21, 2012

      Choice 1!

    36. Creator Sam Brewer on November 21, 2012

      Choice 1

    37. Creator LemonMajor on November 21, 2012

      Man, what if I just pick choice two?

    38. Creator Dan Keidl on November 21, 2012